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Official says county schools could be facing major budget increases

Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm

At the Northumberland County School Board’s budget work session Monday night, School Finance Director Donna Booth predicted that, at the very minimum, the system’s annual budget would have to increase by $389,303 due to increases in costs of the Virginia Retirement System. That increase, with no increases in any other category, would put the county school budget at $16,372,734 for the next fiscal year.
With a three percent increase in staff salaries along with the VRS changes, the county would have to come up with an additional $761,241 next year without any staff changes, Booth estimated.
Finally, Booth noted that if additional staff were hired along with the VRS change, the budget would have to increase by $1,248,771 in the next fiscal year.
Booth’s estimates did not include an additional $65,000 if the Pre-K through third grade school year is extended by five weeks to help children who are lagging in English and mathematics.
The Board will accept public comment on the budget and discuss it further at its meeting Feb. 10. Then, on Feb. 24, Superintendent Rebecca Gates will present the school board with her proposed budget. On March 10, there will be a public hearing on it. Following the public hearing, the Board will adopt a budget to be sent on to the Board of Supervisors.
Additionally, Gates provided the Board with an overview of what the state might do to fund the schools next year. Although former governor Bob McDonnell’s proposed budget would provide some increased state funding and Gov. Terry McAuliffe may suggest a bit more, it is far too early to know what will come out of the General Assembly. While state funding for the 2014-2016 biennium may be a bit more than for the 2011-2013 biennium it won’t be nearly as much as the funding provided in 2009, the Virginia School Boards Association’s analysts had predicted according to Gates.